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Age Takes Toll on Facial Bones, Study Finds
Date:1/7/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- When you think of facial aging, wrinkles and sagging skin come to mind, but new research finds that skin isn't the only thing that ages.

Over time, so do the facial bones, which lose volume and recede, making you look even older.

And if crow's feet and jowly cheeks weren't enough, the bones of the eye socket gradually widen, the brow bone recedes and the jawbone becomes less defined.

If you think of the facial bones as "scaffolding" for facial tissue and skin, the bone loss can contribute to that drooping, deflated look, explained study author Dr. Robert Shaw Jr., chief resident in the division of plastic surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.

And sorry, ladies. While the most pronounced bone loss happened for men when they were 65 and older, the process starts earlier in women. Women's facial skeletons between 41 and 64 looked much different than their facial bones did between the ages of 20 and 40, according to the study.

The bone loss helps explain why getting a simple facelift, or skin tightening, won't ever make you look like your 20-year-old self, Shaw said.

"The original thought was that skin goes through changes, such as a loss of elasticity and fat, so the primary approach to facial rejuvenation was skin tightening procedures," Shaw said. "But a lot of faces never looked like they did when they were younger. Patients bring in pictures and say they want to go back to that look, but they can never really go back to that look just by tightening their skin alone. If there are changes to those underlying structures it's going to change the appearance of how the skin looks."

The study is published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Shaw and his colleagues did CT scans of the facial bones in 120 men and women aged 20 to 40, 41 to 64, and 65 a
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